Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
The 9th annual Savor Dallas afforded an opportunity for connoisseurs to venture out of their wineries and gastro pubs in order to gather around the area’s culinary prophets. Three days of tastings culminated in a grand spectacle on Mar. 16 when these true believers descended upon the Irving Convention Center for the Grand Tasting, which showcased the region’s finest wining and dining.
One guest, David Sterling, explained far reaching implications of the event. “We believe in the arts. We believe in what they bring to the culture of the city. We want to be part of that. We believe that what we do is a craft, is an art form,” Sterling said.
The festival’s overwhelming, positive response demonstrates that boutique restaurants are here to stay. Furthermore, with development in places like Oak Cliff and the Arts District, these establishments are only becoming more numerous and inventive.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 10:31
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jason Alderman
Many people adopt a "penny wise, pound foolish" mentality when it comes to buying insurance. When trying to lower expenses, some will drop or reduce needed coverage, gambling that they won't become seriously ill, suffer a car accident or fall victim to a fire or other catastrophe. But all it takes is one serious uncovered (or under-covered) incident to potentially wipe you out financially.
Here are insurance policies no household should be without:
Medical. This is the most critical – and unfortunately, the most expensive – coverage you need. When comparing plans, consider:
Are your doctors in their provider networks? If not, can you afford out-of-network charges – or are you willing to find new doctors?
Are your medications covered under the plan's drug formularies?
Do they restrict specialized services you might need like maternity, mental health or weight reduction treatments?
If you choose catastrophic coverage to lower premiums, can you afford the high deductible in case of an accident or major illness?
Homeowner/renter. Faulty plumbing, theft and home-accident lawsuits are only a few catastrophes that could leave you without possessions or homeless. A few tips:
"Actual cash value" coverage repairs or replaces belongings, minus the deductible and depreciation, whereas "replacement cost" coverage replaces items in today's dollars. Depreciation can significantly lower values, so replacement coverage is probably worth the extra expense.
Jewelry, art, computers and luxury items usually require additional coverage.
Review coverage periodically to adjust for inflation, home improvements, new possessions, change in marital/family status, etc.
The market is competitive, so compare your rate with other insurance carriers. Get "apples to apples" quotes since policies may have varying provisions.
Vehicle. You probably can't even get a driver's license without demonstrating proof of insurance. Consider these coverage options:
"Liability" pays if you cause an accident that injures others or damages their car or property.
"Uninsured motorist" pays for damage caused to you or your car by an uninsured motorist.
"Collision" pays for damage to your car resulting from a collision and "comprehensive" pays for damage caused by things like theft, vandalism and fire. However, they only pay up to the actual cash value (ACV) minus deductibles. Because the ACV for older cars is low, repairs often cost more than the car is worth.
Common ways to lower premiums include: Raising deductibles; discounts for good drivers, exceeding age 55 or installing security systems; comparison shopping; and buying homeowner and car insurance from the same carrier.
Life insurance. If you're single with no dependents, you may get by with minimal or no life insurance. But if your family depends on your income, experts recommend buying coverage worth at least five to 10 times annual pay. Other considerations:
Many employers offer life insurance, but if you're young and healthy you may be able to get a better deal on your own.
After your kids are grown you may be able to lower your coverage; although carefully consider your spouse's retirement needs.
You probably don't need life insurance on your children, but you might want spousal coverage if you depend on each other's income.
If your divorce settlement includes alimony and/or child support, buy life insurance on the person paying it, naming the receiving ex-spouse as beneficiary.
Don't gamble your future financial stability by passing on vital insurance coverage – the odds aren't in your favor.
Last Updated on Sunday, 10 February 2013 21:45
Written by Contributor
The sale of assault rifles to the general public must be banned.
My brother, James B. Evans, a Riverside, California Deputy Sheriff, was killed in action by bank robbers in Norco, California on May 9, 1980. The robbers were armed with assault weapons, including AR15s, and drove through Norco and the nearby mountains shooting everyone in sight, including children riding their bicycles. The facts below are taken from the website of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Association (www.rcdsa.org/norco robbery/story1.html ). The site contains a descriptive story, plus a three-part Youtube training video with actual footage of the event. The video is used across the country to train law enforcement officers.
Article by Shirlee Pigeon:
• 1 bank robbery
• 1 25-mile running gun battle from Norco to the San Bernardino foothills
• 33 patrol cars damaged or completely destroyed
• 1 sheriff’s helicopter shot down
• Numerous civilians shot at
• 2 robbers dead
• 3 robbers imprisoned, life without parole
• 8 wounded Deputies — Heroes all
• 1 dead Deputy — Hero
In addition, I was told by a Norco resident that over 60 people received gunshot injuries during this horrific event.
I miss my brother everyday and do not wish others to have to suffer through the same sudden and senseless death of a loved one. We are all in danger of being an innocent bystander when assault weapons are readily available by sale, theft, or transfer. Police are helpless to protect us against the powerful damage rendered by these weapons before they can arrive at an active scene to help.
Kay Evans Schecht
Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2013 12:09
Written by Contributor
Steve's stance is admirable. A couple of years ago I contacted the Lady in charge of language to discuss English immersion instead of bi-lingual education. She was adamantly opposed to any change because of "the culture."
I tried to explain that if Hispanics truly wanted their children to excel in a world of spoken English, it must begin at home. No longer could the father of the house order and speak to waiters in fluent English, and then revert to speaking Spanish at the table as soon as the waiter left. My take is that the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles must speak English in the presence of these children . . . if they are to excel . . . no . . . if they are to survive. She was incensed at my suggestion. As long as Hispanics maintain this attitude, Hispanic children don't have a chance!
Steve Jones is merely trying to speak the truth. What does he get for the effort? Censure. Shame on you board!!! Shame on you. Only if we had more men as courageous as Mr. Jones, to speak the truth, regardless of the consequences. Mr. Jones is my man. He is a man of tremendous character. Try as you may to destroy him, you will not succeed! Truth is difficult to defeat, and Steve is a man of truth. God bless him in this effort to rise above the trivial, the mean, the lie!
Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2013 12:08
Written by Phil Cerroni
Dear Mayor, Council Members and Citizens of Irving:
As the chairman and your representative on the DART Board of Directors, I am pleased to report to you the state of the agency, particularly as it relates to Irving.
If ever there were a watershed year in the DART-Irving relationship, 2012 was it. The arrival of the Orange Line in Irving culminated 12 years of land-use planning by DART, the city of Irving, the Las Colinas Association and the Dallas County Utilities Reclamation District.
The first two Orange Line segments opened on schedule: on July 30 to the University of Dallas, Las Colinas Urban Center and the Irving Convention Center; and on Dec. 3 to North Lake College and Belt Line Road. For thousands of employees who commute in and out of Irving daily, the Orange Line offers fresh alternatives to driving. But it connects to more than jobs – it’s Irving’s new link to educational institutions, medical services, entertainment venues and more.
When the much-anticipated third segment of the 14-mile, $1.3 billion line opens in December 2014, Irving will have a direct rail connection to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – and, by extension, to the world. DART will be one of the few transit properties in the nation with direct rail service to and from a major airport. That final piece of the Orange Line is being built as we speak.
Also on Dec. 3, DART opened a 4.5-mile extension of the Blue Line east to Rowlett. DART has built more than 40 miles of track in the last three years alone. At 85 miles, DART Rail now is the largest electric light rail system in the nation.
While the arrival of rail service is certainly a game-changer, buses have always been the backbone of our system. Currently, DART is undertaking a $248 million, full-scale fleet replacement. We have purchased 120 small, agile buses and placed an order for 542 larger buses, which already are beginning to arrive. All are environmentally friendly, powered by compressed natural gas.
DART also strove during 2012 to identify new revenue streams. In March, we implemented Fair Share Parking at two end-of-the-line stations, and at a new park-and-ride bus facility a few months later. We extended the program to Belt Line Station when it opened in December. In addition to regular parking, that station offers long-term parking for riders who are headed to the airport.
Also in Irving, DART is continuing to plan with the city to implement new bus shelters near the corner of Nursery Road and Irving Boulevard. These are not only state-of-the-art shelters featuring solar-powered heating and other amenities; they are a pilot project to explore the viability of advertising at DART’s bus facilities. If the program succeeds, we will roll it out throughout the service area.
Some other highlights of 2012 include:
In August, the Board selected Dallas attorney Scott Carlson as the agency’s new general counsel. Scott had been Dallas’ appointee to the DART Board since 2003. He served on a number of board committees and chaired the planning committee. He joins DART from the law firm of Cavazos, Hendricks, Poirot & Smitham, where he served as senior counsel.
In October, DART awarded a new paratransit services contract to MV Transportation, and adopted a new service delivery model in the same stroke. Paratransit now uses multiple vehicle types: MV Transportation’s own fleet, outsourced taxis, as well as leasing some of DART’s paratransit vans until MV’s fleet of larger vans are delivered. As a result, the service is more flexible. The agency expects to realize $90 million in savings over the course of the seven-year contract.
DART’s sales tax revenues were $432.5 million, 2.4 percent better than target, and total revenues reached $720.1 million. The agency’s total subsidy per passenger was 6.7 percent better than target, and sales tax allocated to operating expenses came in 3.5 percent better than target.
Fixed-route ridership is up: The DART Board set a target of 65.9 million passenger trips, and DART exceeded that goal by 2.7 million, or about 4 percent. That’s an 11 percent increase over FY11 reported ridership, and includes a change in light rail counting from manual counts to the use of more accurate, FTA-approved, automated passenger counters. While total system ridership was down by 6.2 percent from FY 2011 – clocking in at 104.9 million passenger trips – that decline is largely attributable to the closing of HOV lanes on LBJ Freeway early in the year.
DART has continued to look for innovative ways to address the demand for public transit beyond our service borders. In March, we began providing express bus service to Mesquite on a contract basis. The program is still under evaluation, but it could offer a template for similar services to other area cities.
To better leverage our resources as a region, DART, the Fort Worth T and the Denton County Transportation Authority have entered into a Tri-Party Passenger Rail Alliance. I believe that this alliance is potentially the next major step in a new era of passenger rail transit for the North Texas region – an area that extends across 16 counties. Our combined leverage could translate to increased purchasing power of vehicles and rights of way, the moxie to develop bigger projects than ever before, and the credibility that comes from presenting a united front in Austin.
With the three agencies joining forces, we can ensure that the process of getting passenger rail projects up and running is streamlined and backed by a strong advocacy coalition. Chief among these potential projects is the Cotton Belt corridor, which extends from DART’s Red Line in the Plano-Richardson area through North Dallas, Addison and downtown Carrollton, on to DFW Airport – and beyond to Fort Worth.
The Cotton Belt is not funded in DART’s 20-Year Financial Plan. But the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) of the North Central Texas Council of Governments is exploring innovative financing options – most likely a public-private partnership that would be the first of its kind in Texas. What role DART, The T and DCTA will play remains to be seen, but the Tri-Party Passenger Rail Alliance gives our agencies a strong, collective voice. The RTC’s findings and recommendations are expected in the coming months.
How we approach the Cotton Belt could set the stage for other similar initiatives in the future. I envision the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Line eventually being developed for passenger rail. It would extend from Irving’s Heritage Crossing to Downtown Carrollton – and ultimately, it could reach the bustling city of Frisco and even the Red River.
I believe that Irving is on the path to a new way of life. The DART System is rapidly maturing; in 2012, we celebrated our 250 millionth light rail passenger. The agency now turns its attention to operating one of the most robust multimodal transit systems in North America. Irving is deeply invested in the DART project, and we are poised to reap abundant dividends.
If you have questions or suggestions at any time, please feel free to contact me at 972.554.0500.
Yours Very Truly,
John C. Danish
Chairman, DART Board of Directors (Irving)
Last Updated on Sunday, 03 February 2013 15:46